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The Big Necessity

The Big Necessity : The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters
Rose George
New York, NY : Metropolitan Books, 2008
RA567 .G46 2008

An utterly original exploration of the world of human waste that will surprise, outrage - and entertain.

Produced behind closed doors, disposed of discreetly, and hidden by euphemism, bodily waste is something common to all and as natural as breathing, yet we prefer not to talk about it. But we should - even those of us who take care of our business in pristine, sanitary conditions. For it is not only in developing countries - where diarrhea kills more children than AIDS, tuberculosis, or malaria - that human waste is a major public health threat: population growth is taxing the most advanced sewage systems as well. Even in America, nearly two million people have no access to an indoor toilet. Yet the subject remains unmentionable.

The Big Necessity takes aim at the taboo, revealing everything about how people do - and don't - deal with their own waste. Moving from the deep underground sewers of Paris, London, and New York - an infrastructure disaster waiting to happen - to an Indian slum where ten toilets are shared by 60,000 people, Rose George stops along the way to explore the potential saviors - China's five million biogas digesters, which produce energy from waste; the heroes of third world sanitation movements; the inventor of a humble car loo; and the U.S. Army's personal lasers used by soldiers to zap their feces in the field.

With razor-sharp wit and crusading urgency, mixing levity with gravity, Rose George has turned the subject we like to avoid into a cause with the most serious of consequences.

Quoted from dustjacket.